6. Galium blinii H. Léveillé, Bull. Acad. Int. Géogr. Bot. 25: 48. 1915.
五叶拉拉藤 wu ye la la teng
?Galium bodinieri H. Léveillé; ?G. quinatum H. Léveillé & Vaniot.
Herbs, perennial, weak to climbing, trailing, or matted. Stems usually much branched, 20-70 cm, 4-angled, retrorsely aculeolate to glabrescent. Middle stem leaves in whorls of 6-8, subsessile; blade drying papery or leathery, often blackening, linear-oblong to broadly (ob)lanceolate, (5-)10-22(-30) × (1-)2-4.5(-5.5) mm, adaxially and particularly abaxially ± rough, base acute to cuneate, margin flat to thinly revolute, densely retrorsely aculeolate, ± gradually narrowed into acute apex; vein 1. Inflorescences with terminal and axillary, several-flowered cymes 2-5 cm; axes ± glabrous, often slightly divaricate, with small bracts on lower branches only; pedicels (0.2-)1-3(-5) mm. Ovary obovoid, 0.2-0.3 mm, glabrous or with undeveloped trichomes. Corolla red to purple or violet (only very rarely white), rotate, 1.5-2.5(-3) mm in diam., glabrous; lobes 4, triangular-ovate, acute. Mericarps ovoid, 1-2 mm, glabrous, smooth to verrucose, or sometimes with appressed or spreading uncinate trichomes. Fl. Jun-Sep, fr. Jul-Oct.
● Mountain slopes, river beaches, ditch sides, open fields, grasslands, meadows, thickets, forests; 800-3000 m. Guizhou, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan.
Galium blinii is a critical taxon that belongs to the lower elevation subgroup (1) of the G. asperifolium group (see there). It was considered a synonym of G. asperifolium var. sikkimense by Cufodontis (Oesterr. Bot. Z. 89: 241. 1940), Lauener and Ferguson (Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 32: 106. 1973), and W. C. Chen (in FRPS 71(2): 273. 1999). Only Mill (Edinburgh J. Bot. 53: 204. 1996) commented on its reddish purple flowers and other differential characters, regarded it as a distinct species, and proposed to use its old but so far neglected name. Up to now, specimens of this rather widespread taxon were named as G. asperifolium var. sikkimense, G. pseudoasprellum var. densiflorum, etc. Analyses of a considerable number of relevant specimens from PE, KUN, and WU support Mill’s interpretation and led to the above, more elaborate description. It shows that G. blinii is quite variable with respect to leaf shape and ovary/fruit indumentum but relatively well characterized not only by its reddish purple flowers but also by height, leaf size, retrorsely aculeolate stems and leaf margins, and the usually medium-sized and only small-bracteate cymes, relatively short and firm post-floral peduncles and pedicels, and larger flowers with acute (but not aristate) lobes. This allows separation from its closest relatives, G. prattii and G. asperifolium (where transitional forms occur), but also from G. dahuricum and G. tokyoense.
Further studies will have to show to what extent the following, also reddish purplish flowering taxa from SW China can be separated from Galium blinii: G. craticulatum was described as an endemic from the high mountains of Bhutan (Mill, loc. cit.: 202) and said to differ from G. blinii in its present circumscription by completely glabrous stems with conspicuous, vein-marked wings, less retrorsely aculeolate leaves, larger flowers, and longer filaments; G. bodinieri, also with reddish flowers, according to Mill (loc. cit.: 204-205) is reminiscent of G. craticulatum (particularly in its broadly winged stems) and may represent a link between G. blinii and the alpine, more condensed and shorter leaved G. rebae; the purple-flowered G. quinatum (not mentioned by Mill) was very poorly described and is listed above as a possible synonym of G. blinii, but types have neither been seen by Lauener and Ferguson (loc. cit.: 107) nor by us.